Evolutionary Branding: How To Create An Effective Logo
My background is working with very well-known brands. About five years ago, I founded an agency with the purpose of taking the tools that we’d developed over the years for big brands and applying them to small businesses, startups and nonprofits.
While doing this, I noticed one very interesting thing: Big brands approach the branding process strategically, and small businesses tend to approach the branding process visually — usually with just a logo.
I think this is because it’s harder to talk about the value of strategy and easier to sell a “thing” like a logo. The deliverables for strategy are less tangible things like a value proposition, brand voice and customer personas — hard stuff to talk about even for the savviest marketing guru. This is unfortunate because, in my experience, even the most beautiful logo in the world isn’t likely to have a big effect on sales.
So is a logo important then?
Absolutely. Your logo defines the quality of your brand. And therein lies the danger. A gorgeous logo probably won’t increase sales, but an ugly logo can demolish your brand and force you to lower your prices.
The most basic definition of branding is “the promise you make to your customers.” And your logo is your stamp of approval, like the brand ranchers put on their cattle (and where the term branding comes from). This is why a logo is so important. A poorly designed logo communicates that you have a poorly designed product or a poorly executed service.
Our Approach For Creating A Logo
Crafting a memorable logo is a profoundly nuanced creative endeavor, so if you are not a designer, I advise you to hire a seasoned professional. But if you can’t afford one, here’s how we approach it:
• Always begin with a strategy. The key is to identify your value proposition. Focus on what it is that your organization does differently and better than your competition before you begin doing anything visual.
• Don’t make it personal. This is very important. As we like to say, if you design for yourself, be prepared to buy all of your products. What is most important is that you design for your customer.
• Lastly, keep it simple.
The Different Types Of Logos
There are three distinct types of logos. Your strategy and your name will determine the best approach for your organization.
The three types are:
1. Logos that include or are entirely comprised of a symbol.
Think Nike, Apple and Target. A subset of this approach is using the first letter of the name as your symbol, like McDonald’s and Adobe, or two letters from your name, like Volkswagen.
When developing a logo with a symbol, make sure it fits the name. (Imagine how confusing it would be if Apple’s symbol was a lightbulb, for example.) This works best if you have a visual name. Apple’s logo is so powerful because its name supports its value proposition, which is basically to “Think Different,” and the symbol is a visual depiction of its name. The apple is, of course, the fruit of the tree of knowledge, and as a symbol, it works on so many levels. It is almost perfect in its elegance. If you have a visual name, don’t fight it.
These are logos without symbols; they are defined by their font. Think Coca-Cola and Google.
Simple typographic logos are powerful and classy. Choose a classic typeface, like Bodoni, Goudy, Helvetica Neue or Futura, not the ones that come with your computer. But be cautious. Choose an illustrative typeface, like letters that are made out of cats, and you can quickly wind up with a cheesy logo that screams “cheap.”
If you are creating your logo yourself, I recommend sticking with this approach. Keep it simple, and don’t overthink it.
3. Logos that are hybrids.
These types of logos replace a letter or letters in the brand name with an image or symbol. Think Chick-fil-A, the famous “I Heart NY” logo and Rockstar Energy Drink. Personally, I like this approach the best.
Your Logo Isn’t Set In Stone
In the spirit of evolutionary branding, remember that logos should evolve with the times and as your business grows. Apple is a great example. Its logo wasn’t always as clean and sophisticated as it is today. Neither were AT&T’s and Twitter’s logos. So don’t be afraid to recreate your logo when it starts to feel stale or outdated.
Read More at: www.forbes.com